Sam Burgess likely to be centre of attention

Last updated 10:37 28/08/2014
Sam Burgess
Getty
CENTRE STAGE: South Sydney forward Sam Burgess is likely to start his rugby career for Bath as a centre.

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League star Sam Burgess' mad dash to make the Rugby World Cup will start in the centres but could end up in the forwards.

The British player wraps up his league commitments with Souths at the end of the NRL season and then joins English club Bath.

England have lured the multi-talented Burgess to the 15-man code with an eye to him bolstering their midfield, perhaps even in time for the World Cup they host next year if the big man can make a smooth transition.

They see him as their answer to New Zealand's code-breaker Sonny Bill Williams who is about to launch a second stint with rugby with an eye on a second World Cup medal.

Bath coach Mike Ford claims he's on the same wavelength as England coach Stuart Lancaster though his thinking ahead of Burgess's October arrival seems to contradict that.

"We've got a plan for him now, but there's so many variables," Ford told The Guardian newspaper.

"Clearly we'll probably look at him in the centres first and foremost, let him learn the game from afar really.

"We've got a plan for him in the centres to start with but my gut feeling is he will end up in the pack. Whether that will be Christmas, whether it will be Christmas 2015 who knows? He's here for a long time so we're not too worried about that.

"But if he's doing 60 plays a game in the NRL then you don't really want him playing on the wing do you, in rugby union.

"It's important that when Sam comes we get the best out of Sam and what he can do, and what his qualities are. So we're going to try to get those qualities out more often than not."

Ford says it's Bath's responsibility to groom Burgess

"The RFU have got no say in his development at Bath Rugby. They haven't asked us to play him at centre, but clearly I've spoken to Stuart and we're on the same lines. He again wants Sam Burgess to be Sam Burgess. So we're clearly on the same lines. He might play at centre and be brilliant, and then why would you move him?" he told The Guardian.

Ford says he's open-minded about Burgess - he just wants to maximise his undoubted talents.

 "Look at the NRL stats: Sam has the most carries in the competition, the most tackles in the competition, the most metres in the competition. You're not going to put him somewhere where he's not involved in the game," Ford said.

"So you look at rugby union, where are you most involved in the game? And you've just got to figure it out."

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